WASHINGTON -- The unemployment rate for the youngest generation of veterans jumped to 6.3 percent in January, the fourth time in the last seven months that group's figure has been substantially higher than the overall veteran rate.

The figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which reflect the last month of President Barack Obama's time in office, represent about 211,000 Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans looking for work. That's almost 46 percent of the total of all U.S. veterans filing for unemployment benefits in January.

But employment experts have cautioned that employment estimates for the subset of younger veterans can be prone to more fluctuation than other calculations by BLS analysts, because of smaller sample sizes.

In December, the Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans rate was 5.7 percent. In September, it was even lower, at 4.4 percent.

Still, the higher number of unemployed younger veterans does raise concerns of new struggles for that group, because most monthly estimates for the last two years have been at or below the national unemployment rate.

For all veterans, the January unemployment rate was 4.5 percent, up slightly from the month before but under 5 percent for the 20th consecutive month.

The national unemployment rate was 4.8 percent, up from 4.7 percent in December.

BLS officials estimate that nearly 9.8 million veterans are in the U.S. workforce today, with roughly 32 percent of them having served in the military after 2001.


 
Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at lshane@militarytimes.com.